As originally published in Attorney at Law Magazine, November 1, 2020
Working from Home is Here to Stay: How to Set Your Firm Up for Success
by Heinan Landa | Optimal Networks, Inc.
As we’ve learned, living in a global pandemic means doing our best to navigate a laundry list of uncertainties: how and when should we “reopen” our offices? How do we best keep dispersed attorneys and staff productive and engaged? How do we minimize our risk of breaching client-attorney confidentiality in the wake of heightened cyber threats?
Underpinning all of these questions, however, is one fact that is quite certain indeed: this pandemic will have significant, long-term effects on our work arrangements. As long as the virus remains active, we’ll need to continue to ask tough questions, weigh our options, and adapt.
Many companies have already announced plans to close offices and make many positions permanently virtual, and big names in Silicon Valley, like Google and Facebook, are allowing their employees to stay home until 2021 and beyond. Though most law firms won’t choose to fully close down their offices, most will find it prudent to take a hybrid approach: having a small portion of the firm in the office at any given time, having the rest of the staff working from home, and rotating folks in and out on a prescheduled basis. And this will likely carry on for the next 2-3 years.
In other words, rather than either hunkering down at home or settling back into the office, our workforce will be highly mobile for the foreseeable future. This puts a new strain on your technology systems that—if not handled thoughtfully—could cost your firm in undue security vulnerability, lost billable time, lost revenue, and a damaged reputation.
HOW WFH CAN BENEFIT YOUR BOTTOM LINE
While many firms shifted to working from home out of necessity, offering flexible work arrangements has some compelling benefits to offer; as past studies have shown, allowing employees to work from home regularly can help to:
- Increase productivity. Workers and managers alike have been shown to be on average more productive when WFH is offered, and employees recovered 11 workdays a year by avoiding commutes.
- Attract top talent. Millennial and Gen-Z workers have been shown to actively seek out positions that offer a WFH option. And when geographic limitations are lifted, you can hire top talent regardless of physical location.
- Increase retention. Companies that offered WFH saw a 50% decrease in turnover, and 67% of respondents in a recent law firm survey said they’d like to stay at least partially remote post-COVID.
- Save money (and a lot of it). Businesses have saved a whopping $44 billion a year, primarily from money saved on rent and lower turnover.
The catch, of course, is that your ability to succeed in a remote work setup depends on how effectively you leverage technology to allow for seamless flexibility between home and the office. For law firms especially, it also means ensuring that no level of security or data protection is lost between in-office and remote work.
SIGNS YOUR CURRENT SETUP NEEDS AN UPDATE
So, how do you know if your current technology environment offers sufficient flexibility and security? Here are a few indications that your current set up may need to change: